Cursive. Photo: Daniel Muller
When I heard Cursive was playing in Salt Lake on Valentine's Day, I immediately called my boyfriend and told him we were going. How perfect would it be to stand within gazing distance of Tim Kasher, holding my lover's hand and singing along to the melodramatic lyrics that summed up all of my deep rooted adolescent sensitivities in celebration of our romance? Cupid couldn't have planned it better.
Then I got dumped.
On the bright side, I didn't feel guilty for all of the dirty Tim Kasher fantasies going through my head as my girl friend Taylor and I made our way into the super packed Valentine's show at Urban Lounge. North Carolina folk rockers Mount Moriah started the night off, the super-cute vocalist Heather McEntire explaining beforehand in a sweet Carolina accent that they were missing a member and would be playing a mellow set. Most of the crowd was gathered around the bar and talking rather loudly over each other at this point, which was unfortunate, as they succeeded in drowning out McEntire's beautiful voice (which my friend Taylor thought sounded like Rilo Kiley's Jenny Lewis) and the alt-country twang that backed her. Playing for maybe 15 minutes, Mount Moriah left the stage to make way for the next band as the venue packed in even tighter.
Having first listened to Austin-based Ume (pronounced oooh-may) earlier in the day when I was sent their latest record, Phantoms, I was curious to see them play live. Overall the album was OK––the songs were a little too similar to each other to keep me interested throughout, but there were a couple of stand-out tracks that made me perk up mostly because frontwoman Lauren Larson seemed to have some bangin' pipes on her, reminiscent of a slightly watered down Karen O. Taylor and I made our way to the front as the trio started up, and the rest of the crowd moved in with us. Larson introduced the band and smiled as she admitted that the last time they'd been in town they'd played to just two people––well, Cursive's here with ya, m'dear, I thought to myself (except I don't actually talk like that)––and it was obvious the band was pretty stoked on the turn-out. The turn-out was definitely stoked on them. These guys sound like a loud, guitar-heavy Metric––Larson's voice is actually pretty similar to Emily Haines'. Wearing a knee-length sweater with perfectly brushed blonde hair, Larson drove the crowd insane with her surprisingly energetic stage antics. Jumping up and down, taking center stage for face-melting guitar riffs and banging her blonde in everyone's faces, Larson definitely knows how to put on a show.There were plenty of pouty faces in the crowd staring angrily at their open-mouthed dates. I imagine Ume won't be playing to an audience of two next time they visit SLC, with or without Cursive. I just hope if it's at Urban again, they turn up Larson's mic a bit, 'cause the guitar was drowning out her vocals.
The transition between Ume and Cursive was short and sweet. Kasher set up his own mic, grinning into the crowd the whole time. These guys are as stoked to be here as we are, I thought. I'll be honest and admit that I'm slightly more familiar and a bigger fan of Kasher's infinitely more depressing side project, The Good Life––I was a troubled youth in a very middle-class white girl kind of way. Cursive was just too noisy and jarring for me at first, but I was seduced soon enough. The set started with a literal bang: "Big Bang" off 2006's Happy Hollow, except Kasher substituted "clergymen" for "Joseph Smith," which made everyone in the crowd, including myself, moist. We're so easy. Kasher didn't give a word of introduction. In fact, they played seamlessly until they were about 75-percent through, Kasher interrupting the set to wish us all a happy Valentine's and tell us about his trip to Victoria's Secret, where he'd gotten us all a 250-people teddy. He explained they'd play one more song, take some shots, and come back and jam some more. Most of the music played was from their upcoming Saddle Creek (of course) release, I Am Gemini, out on Feb. 21. In the same religiously and politically exasperated vein as their previous releases, I Am Gemini tells the story of twin brothers separated at birth, questioning whether one is evil and one is good, or if together they make a whole. You can stream the entire album for free on Rolling Stone right now. The set finished abruptly after the three or four songs that followed Kasher's "break for shots," which I thought was completely fitting for the band. No pretentious encore, just a straight-up, in-your-face, god-honest finale.
It was definitely a memorable show, and though my love for Cursive has increased exponentially, I can't help but hope it means we might see more activity from The Good Life. I need some new music to cry to when my next boyfriend dumps me before Valentine's Day.